DEIA Roundtable for Natural Areas Practitioners

January 31, 2023. Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility Roundtable.

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility Virtual Roundtable

Challenges and Opportunities for Natural Areas Practitioners

This session is not about training. It is about listening.

We Need to Hear From You!

This virtual roundtable was an opportunity for natural areas professionals to consider diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility in their work.  NAA seeks to understand the challenges and opportunities that natural areas professionals are encountering and understand the needs of practitioners.  Information gathered during the roundtable will inform NAA’s programming and provide support as you  embrace and integrate the principles of diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility into program strategies, management plans, and day-to-day activities.

This roundtable has concluded. Thank you to all who attended!

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Registration is $0. Everyone is invited to participate.


12:00 pm - 12:10 pm  Welcome & Introductions
12:10 pm - 12:20 pm   Review the Norms for Courageous Conversations
12:20 pm - 12:40 pm  Small Groups Sharing - Opportunities & Challenges around DEIA in Our Work
12:40 pm -   1:00 pm  Group Discussion - How can NAA Support Natural Areas Practitioners Working on DEIA?
  1:00 pm -   1:30 pm   Brainstorming NAA Programming to Support Natural Areas Practioners in Reaching DEIA Goals


Kelly Heintz

Natural Lands Planner, King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks (WA)
NAA Board Member

Kelly Heintz is a Natural Lands Planner with King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks. Prior to that she was a Natural Areas Manager at Washington Department of Natural Resources in the South Puget Sound Region. Kelly secures grants and other funding to acquire high conservation value natural lands as part of the county’s Land Conservation Initiative. She engages the community around stewardship, public access, and use of those lands. Kelly earned a M.S. in Natural Resources Management from University of Washington College of Forest Resources.

Raquel Garcia-Alvarez

Forest Preserves of Cook County (IL)
NAA Board Member

Raquel is the Stewardship Program Coordinator and a steward at the Forest Preserves of Cook County, Illinois. She co-leads Latinx stewardship days to connect the local community so that they are aware that these public lands are theirs too. For 2021, she is on a detail focusing on operationalizing racial equity within the Forest Preserves.

She also founded the Environmentalists of Color (EOC), the network holds a safe space to amplify, connect, and support members to be leaders and thrive in various environmental fields. Raquel was named as one of 16 Impactful and Influential Eco-Warriors Making a Difference for the Environment in 2021 according to Marin Magazine.

Raquel has a Master’s Degree in Environment and Natural Resource Management from the University of Iceland in Reykjavík and an undergraduate degree in Animal Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Raquel is from the vibrant south side Little Village neighborhood in Chicago and has visited over 40 countries world-wide.

Deborah Beighley

Inclusion, Diversity, & Equity Program Manager
US Forest Service

Chris Firestone

Botanist, PA DCNR Bureau of Forestry

Chris is a botanist with the Wild Plant Management Program in the PA DCNR Bureau of Forestry. Since 1995 she works to increase the sustainability of harvesting medicinal plants, specifically American Ginseng; invasive species management, native plant education all for the conservation of native plants.

Chris graduated from Shippensburg University with a B.S. and M.S. in Biology and before joining the Bureau worked as an environmental consultant, taught college biology, worked as a data handler for The Nature Conservancy and taught at her family’s environmental center in Perry County.

Chris currently lives in Potter County, Pennsylvania surrounded by woods, meadows and wetlands. Her gardens combine vegetables, native plants and weeds to provide habitat, food and medicine for wildlife, pollinators and humans. Chris’s latest project is learning more about the wild plant species around her and telling others their stories. When she gets a chance, Chris enjoys hiking and camping in the beauty offered by the PA Wilds around her.

This roundtable is provided with support from the USDA Forest Service.


Join the people who protect and manage our natural areas.